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Thread: An American Manager in Europe [Football Manager AAR]

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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    An American Manager in Europe [Football Manager AAR]



    Inspired by Zack's Raiders AAR, I've decided to continue the concept's resurrection and apply it to the world of European club soccer. The same principles will hold: I'll take control of a crappy team, and gradually, over the years, remake them into an unstoppable juggernaut to the point where they regularly sell out meaningless preseason friendlies in the United States and have diehard fans in Thailand get into regular fights about the team in Facebook comments.

    On my homesite, outside of the mafia forum one of my favorite things were video game After Action Reports (AAR). They've gone by the wayside with the advent of Twitch and Let's Plays, but the basic gist is someone on the forum plays through a game and shares screencaps and commentary to anyone who wants to follow along.
    What team will that be, you ask? Well, I haven't quite decided yet. I might trawl around the various European lower leagues when I get home from work today, or I might just fully YOLO it and play a journeyman save (basically, I start out unemployed and wait for a team who's fired their manager hires me). I'll take suggestions in the meantime!

    What is Football Manager?

    Broadly, it's a soccer sports simulator somewhat in the vein of Madden. However, it places an emphasis on the off-the-field stuff, and is particularly known for its deep features in player scouting/signing/development. It's much closer to Out of the Park Baseball and even Paradox games than it is Madden.

    As a matter of fact, you don't even play the games - you're simply a spectator. While you can adjust tactics and make substitutions and do everything that a regular coach can do, at the end of the day, if the players just aren't having a good day, there's nothing you can personally do about it. It's exasperating, terrifying, and really really fun all at once.

    ---

    Game Details:
    I own two versions of the game, Football Manager 2015 and 2018. I will probably be playing on 2018 unless the computer generated faces piss me off in that one enough where I go back to 2015.

    First window transfer budgets will be enabled. Normally I have these off but:

    I'll be playing with entirely fake, randomly-generated players. I've decided to do this for a few reasons: First of all, I want to play this straight and not exploit my knowledge of cheap wonderkids that I usually rely on. Second of all, I intend to start in the lower leagues and it will most likely take me several years to get to the top level so by that time most of the good players will have declined/retired anyway. Third of all, it's more fun to make up stories about fake people.

    I will be making use of the In Game Editor for game balance/RP reasons (specifically, I don't want the English Top 6 + PSG having 3x the money as all of the other leagues) as well as to dynamically create and adjust rivalries when appropriate. I will not be using it for exploits.

    Game mods: I will be using the Licensing and Real Names fix from sortitoutsi as well as several uniform and logo mods for immersion purposes. Not bothering with face packs since I'm using fake players anyway.

    I will stay away from most standard FM tactics that I consider exploitative. This includes but is not limited to: Knowingly taking advantage of set piece tactics that the AI has a problem defending, ruthlessly culling everyone over 27 on my team in favor of cheap South American regens (i.e. the "Argentinian wonderkids" meme; though I reserve the right to buy an appropriate amount of them), and engaging in over-the-top $%#!y in transfer/contract negotiations. I intend to play as an unsentimental but still realistic manager.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (complete!)
    The conclusion to the epic trilogy: An American Manager in San Marino (on hiatus)
    Stopping the Juggernaut (how to fight back against powerwolfing/bad situations as town)
    The Ten Worst Miseliminations in Champs History and How to Avoid Them (posted before Season 7/2019, will not be updated further)

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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    A Primer on How Soccer Teams Operate:

    This guide is mostly for the Americans (such as myself) who are unaware of some of the major differences between how the Big Four US leagues are run and how it's done over in Europe.

    The two major points of difference between European soccer and American sports are the competition structure and how player transactions work. Anything else is comparatively minor and if it comes up, I'll talk about it then (you may also feel free to ask me, of course).

    Competition structure:
    Unlike in the US (where it's just the league championship or bust), soccer teams have multiple chances to win competitions every season. The important ones are as follows:

    - League play is the major one and most games played are league games. Each country has its own league system. There are no conferences or divisions or the like within the leagues: every team plays every other team twice - one home and one away - and at the end of the season the team with the most points wins the league title. If you finish in the bottom couple of positions, you get relegated to a lower league; likewise, if you finish in the top couple of positions, you get promoted to a higher league (if applicable). There's no postseason tournament, but some lower leagues have a mini playoff to secure a final promotion spot.

    - Domestic cup. Less prestigious than league play, at least for the big boys, this is a season-long knockout tournament that runs concurrently with the league season and is open to pretty much any professional or semi-professional team in the country. You could be having a garbage season in the league and still save your job by going on a nice cup run, and a trophy is a trophy. Every country has at least one cup, though they very in importance. England and France have two; I'll go into the specifics and differences if they become relevant.

    - The Champions League. Despite the league name, this is also a season-long tournament and is the most prestigious competition in Europe. If you finish in the top couple of spots in your country's top league, you get to play in the Champions League the next year along with the best teams from the other countries. The Champions League Final, held in late May or early June, is always the final event in every (club) season and is Europe's version of the Super Bowl.

    - The Europa League. Similar to the Champions League, for teams who finished just a bit below Champions League contention every year, or were otherwise knocked out of the Champions League at a certain point. Despite similarities to the much-derided NIT, the Europa League is generally treated with respect unless you're from England.

    - Several minor one-or-two-off tournaments that you're entered in if you won stuff the previous season. Not worth going into detail about here.

    - International tournaments: Club teams are not national teams! The World Cup is every four years. Every continent also has its own continental tournament; Europe's and South America's are the most competitive. Most continental tournaments run every four years unless they're in the process of realigning the dates (South America). North America's runs every two years. I will generally not be reporting on these in much detail beyond talking about if my players had a good tournament or something.

    Player Transactions:

    Whenever a player switches teams, it's called a transfer. Most transfers come in the form of Team A paying Team B an amount of money for the right to negotiate a new contract with the player. Player-for-player trades are comparatively rare, and losing a player to free agency (known as a free transfer) is looked at with fear, because it means you weren't able to get any money for that player.

    Player preference plays a huge part in this. If you send a player to a new team, they have to agree to contract terms with that new team before the deal can happen. In other words, you can't exile a player to Siberia F.C. because he was annoying you and you wanted to send a message.

    Soccer, in general, revolves around money, moreso than even the American sports. There is no salary cap beyond what your club can afford to spend (technically this isn't true but we won't get into that here). If you're not a top team, you're incentivized to sell your better players if they want to leave - better to get something for them before they join a better team when their contract expires and leave you with nothing. You then use that cash to buy replacements, hope you go on a good run, and the cycle renews itself.

    There is zero incentive to tank. If your team has a crappy season, the result is you being relegated to a lower league and losing out on money you get for being in a better league. You don't even get the satisfaction of getting a high pick in a player draft: all new players come up through your own youth system and are randomly generated based on a number of factors that include how much you've invested in it and how good that country generally is at soccer.

    Some top teams, in no particular order:
    England:
    Manchester United (Manchester)
    Manchester City (Manchester)
    Liverpool (Liverpool)
    Chelsea (London)
    Arsenal (London)
    Tottenham Hotspur (aka "Tottenham" or simply "Spurs") (London)

    Spain:
    Real Madrid (Madrid)
    Barcelona (Barcelona)
    Atletico Madrid (Madrid)

    Germany:
    Bayern Munich (Munich)
    Borussia Dortmund (Dortmund)
    RB Leipzig (Leipzig)
    Schalke (Gelsenkirchen)

    Italy:
    Juventus (Turin)
    Milan (Milan)
    Inter (Milan)
    Roma (Rome)
    Napoli (Naples)

    France:
    Paris St. German (aka PSG) (Paris)
    Monaco (Monaco)
    Lyon (Lyon)


    Table of Contents
    Prologue
    1. Picking a Team
    2. Mr. Hankerchief Goes to Cartagena
    3. Dramatis Personae

    Season 1: 2017-18
    4. The Preseason Friendlies
    5. The Dog Days of Autumn
    6. Razor-Thin Margins
    7. My Kingdom for a Goalkeeper
    8. The Spanish Pyramid Explained
    9. The Fight For Respectability
    10. The Reaping

    Season 2: 2018-19
    11. The Four-Year Plan
    12. Post-Promotion Blues?
    13. My First Sale
    14. Cartagena vs. Lleida Esportiu
    15. Promise and Problems

    Season 3: 2019-20
    16. Estadio Cartagonova, Transit Hub
    17. That Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
    18. Casualties of the Churn
    19. Appeasing the Injury God
    20. Battle Royale
    21. Judgement Day

    Season 4: 2020-21
    22. The La Liga Rogues Gallery
    23. Lambs to the Slaughter
    24. Debut
    25. Early-Season Breakdown
    26. Welcome to the Show, Carlos Castaño
    27. El Clásico Pequeño
    28. The January from Hell
    29. Icarus Burns
    30. Rene Velti's Moment of Immortality

    Season 5: 2021-22
    31. The Scramble (Be)For(e) Europe
    32. The Pros and Cons of the Europa League
    33. Vultures Above
    34. Ends with Varying Degrees of Looseness
    35. The Crunch
    36. Why I Prefer Inside Forwards
    37. Europa League Final, 2022

    Interlude
    38. The State of the World, Summer 2022

    Season 6: 2022-23
    39. The Disease of More
    40. Intrigues Among the Elite
    41. Gazing Into the Crystal Ball
    42. Hannibal's Ghosts
    43. Meanwhile
    44. Viva Pablo

    Season 7: 2023-24
    45. No Victory without Sacrifice
    46. The Season, in Searches
    47. Destiny and Redemption
    48. On Ceilings
    49. February
    50. Collisions and Copas
    51. The Final Verdict

    Season 8: 2024-25
    52. Mark 8:36
    53. The Reload, on a Budget
    54. Regression, of a Sort
    55. The Winds of Winter
    56. Swoon
    57. Domingo Marín's Last Stand
    58. The FInal

    Season 9: 2025-26
    59. Requiem for Enrique García
    60. Adventures with the 4-4-2
    61. The Australian Sojourn
    62. La Cucaracha
    63. How a Teenager took Cartagena by Storm
    64. Seeing Out the Season
    65. Adiós, Cartagonova

    Season 10: 2026-27
    66. Fully Armed and Operational
    67. Time's Arrow
    68. How They Got Here
    69. 500
    70. Setting the Table
    71. The Last Enemy to be Destroyed
    72. First Blood
    73. The Power of the Dutch
    74. Boiling Point

    Epilogue
    75. Vamos Cartagena
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; July 14th, 2019 at 05:08 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (complete!)
    The conclusion to the epic trilogy: An American Manager in San Marino (on hiatus)
    Stopping the Juggernaut (how to fight back against powerwolfing/bad situations as town)
    The Ten Worst Miseliminations in Champs History and How to Avoid Them (posted before Season 7/2019, will not be updated further)

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    GOAT Tier LanMisa's Avatar
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    Very much looking forward to this!

    Also talking about Paradox: I might or might not do a Paradox AAR here at some point. If you have a favourite game from them, make a suggestion.

    By the way, for reasons that are entirely.... not selfish, I recommend starting in Germany.

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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#3)
    Also talking about Paradox: I might or might not do a Paradox AAR here at some point. If you have a favourite game from them, make a suggestion.
    My personal favorite is Crusader Kings 2; I also think it lends itself most well to AARs because you can go in-depth with characters and the scheming and the like moreso than mindlessly and facelessly blobbing. As a bonus, you can always export your CK2 game into EU4 and keep going if things are going interestingly enough.

    By the way, for reasons that are entirely.... not selfish, I recommend starting in Germany.
    I'm open to anywhere in the Top 5 leagues countries, but probably have a preference of Italy. That said, if I don't do a journeyman save and go into Germany, I'm eyeing 1860 Munchen; there's something to be said for resurrecting that club back to glory and toppling Big Bad Bayern for local (and national) supremacy.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; February 19th, 2019 at 03:26 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (complete!)
    The conclusion to the epic trilogy: An American Manager in San Marino (on hiatus)
    Stopping the Juggernaut (how to fight back against powerwolfing/bad situations as town)
    The Ten Worst Miseliminations in Champs History and How to Avoid Them (posted before Season 7/2019, will not be updated further)

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    Responsible for #8 Mistyx's Avatar
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    GOAT Tier LanMisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#4)
    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#3)
    Also talking about Paradox: I might or might not do a Paradox AAR here at some point. If you have a favourite game from them, make a suggestion.
    My personal favorite is Crusader Kings 2; I also think it lends itself most well to AARs because you can go in-depth with characters and the scheming and the like moreso than mindlessly and facelessly blobbing. As a bonus, you can always export your CK2 game into EU4 and keep going if things are going interestingly enough.

    By the way, for reasons that are entirely.... not selfish, I recommend starting in Germany.
    I'm open to anywhere in the Top 5 leagues countries, but probably have a preference of Italy. That said, if I don't do a journeyman save and go into Germany, I'm eyeing 1860 Munchen; there's something to be said for resurrecting that club back to glory and toppling Big Bad Bayern for local (and national) supremacy.
    CK2 it might end up being the one; I only did EU4 AAR's in the past on Paradox, so CK2 is a new one for me. I won't go for a very early start date then, though, since otherwise the AAR would most likely take far too long. Possibly.

    Also, if you want to REALLY humiliate the Bayern from München: Take Unterhaching, currently in... fourth or third Division, and even smaller than the Lions. They do start out with a very small stadium though, which means a lot of extra work to do.

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    Galaxy Brain Phighter's Avatar
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    urge to try a F04 Playthrough rising

    Best of luck GH! I'll be following along
    Quote Originally Posted by Ampharos (#233)
    So here's the deal, Champ.

    1. Phighter's $%#!ing with you.


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    GOAT Tier LanMisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phighter (#7)
    urge to try a F04 Playthrough rising

    Best of luck GH! I'll be following along
    Personally, I think that having more AAR's would be a cool thing. Go for it!

  9. ISO #9
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Some of the Candidates:

    AFC Wimbledon - League One (3rd tier), England

    Pros: Great story behind their existence, the English league system in FM is extremely rich and detailed even by their standards, Brexit possibilities looming, potential for great showdowns with numerous Premier League teams down the line

    Cons: Not in the lowest playable league in the country, England as a whole feels overdone, Brexit result might be lame ("lame" in this context meaning "not as devastatingly chaotic as I'd like")



    FC Cartagena - Segunda B4 (3rd tier), Spain

    Pros: A location I can work with in terms of RP, unknown enough to the point where it can't even be classified as a hipster pick, I'm planning on visiting Spain next year and could theoretically actually see one of this team's games

    Cons: I never really liked playing in Spain in Football Manager 2015 for whatever reason (though FM18 might be different)



    Unterhaching - 3. Liga (3rd tier), Germany

    Pros: Everything that myself and LanMisa mentioned in our above exchange; my other choice for this particular storyline (1860 Munchen) was so $%#!ty in the 2017-18 season that they're actually not even in a playable league

    Cons: Not really the most romantic of settings, "Unterhaching" doesn't really roll off the tongue well



    Siracusa - Serie C/1 (3rd tier), Italy

    Pros: I have a preference to play in Italy, cool logo, great setting, fun potential rivalries down the line

    Cons: Probably the only Italian club with pretty much no history to speak of, might be infringing too closely on a great, semi-famous FM AAR I read several years back



    Red Star Paris - Championnat National (3rd tier), France

    Pros: History/RP potential, location, tailor made showdown with one of the true final bosses of Football Manager (PSG) down the line

    Cons: French league isn't super exciting beyond PSG, also, $%#! PSG



    Unemployed Start




    Pros: The ultimate test/I need to be ready for anything, I'll have an instant attachment to whoever hires me because they chose me

    Cons: Might get a team/situation I find boring
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; February 19th, 2019 at 07:20 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    $150 - sub-in fee, D1-SOD3
    $100 - sub-in fee, SOD3 or later
    Inquire by DM - offsite game on the Org
    $500 minimum - offsite games elsewhere, negotiable by PM

    All prices in USD, rates subject to change.
    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (complete!)
    The conclusion to the epic trilogy: An American Manager in San Marino (on hiatus)
    Stopping the Juggernaut (how to fight back against powerwolfing/bad situations as town)
    The Ten Worst Miseliminations in Champs History and How to Avoid Them (posted before Season 7/2019, will not be updated further)

  10. ISO #10
    i like the spain or england ones but all seem cromulent

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    GOAT Tier LanMisa's Avatar
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    Like all your picks.

    By the way, Unterhaching does have some backstory. Despite being a tiny club from the fringes of Munich/München they played first division for two years AND managed to gift the league title to the Bayern in 2000, by beating the first placed team of Leverkusen in the last match of the season. So city derbys with Bayern incoming.

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    I make poor decisions when drunk Viggorous's Avatar
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    Excited for this one!

    I would pick either 1) Italy for amazing place with cool real life clubs with rich history, which are getting back to top level after a longer slump and notorious for the tactical approach or 2) the Spanish team for what had to be the Sible most incredible crest on the planet. It's a Danish flag with a crown, an American referee shirt AND a yellow submarine. What more could you ask for?

    Idk how realistic FM is. But I'd imagine the Italian league is more even than the Spanish, there are many good Italian teams that could take the throne from Juve, whereas I don't see anyone ever truly challenging RM and Barca. Like there's 1 tier 1 team in Italy nut multiple tier 2 teams with potential, in Spain the drop off after the top 2-3 teams is pretty severe.

    Whatever you pick I am excited to follow
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubtingThomas (#1916)
    u are the imbecile for wanting to lynch me after that d1

    just please never call yourself
    VIGGOAT or whatever that $%#! you say

    cuz it's really not true not at all after your recent performances and you must feel it

    or are you just spite killing me like you did RC?

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    Fair enough DaveDob's Avatar Discord Moderator
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    Good to see an FM AAR (Gets my creative juices flowing for a future one).
    I like the idea of FC Cartagena (Mostly because I like lower league Spain saves) and Red Star (Conquering France is more difficult than it looks).
    I think Wimbledon has been done so I would steer clear of that personally. (Also I find German saves to be largely boring but that might just be me)
    Don't know enough about lower league Italy to speak to Siracusa but it will be interesting to see.
    “DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018

    NCAA Football 14 AAR

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    ༼ つ ;-; ༽つ give smith another day mhsmith0's Avatar Game Manager
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    For $%#!s and giggles I downloaded fm mobile for like $8, and I'm like



    I think I somehow managed to play my backup goalie at a wing position for like 5 games before I realized that I'd mislicked on roster assignments
    Life is simply unfair... don't you think?
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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Prologue, Part II: Mr. Hankerchief Goes to Cartagena


    That's me. At least, the in-game rendition of me that I choose to endorse. In addition to being able to (somewhat) alter your appearance, you get to choose your attributes as a coach as well as overall skill level in terms of training players. Included in this section is an option to have a coaching skill level that's appropriate for the team you take over. Since none of the teams I was picking from were exactly high-demand jobs, the game says I still need a few coaching badges before I reach the top and don't have that much professional experience as a player.

    So, since I can't overawe the players with my tactical acumen (at least, not yet) or pull a Zidane and get them to fall in line off the basis of my accomplishments on the field, I decided to make do with being physically intimidating. Hence, General Hankerchief: He's 6'9, has a wicked Fu Manchu stache, and killer hair taken straight from an 80s movie villain. He'll do.

    ---

    Let's flash back to the summer of 2017, which is when this game begins. IRL, I was preparing for a vacation to South Carolina to watch the total solar eclipse with my friends. I was also winding down with the process of being a juror for Season 4 of the Mafia Championships. In that timeline, I saw out my duty, became a moderator on MU for a while, and stayed put.

    Let's say that I made a better decision. Let's say that instead of remaining a presence on MU and at my place of employment, let's say I decided to chase my dream. One of Malcolm Gladwell's theories states that you can't be a true master of something until you've invested 10,000 hours of work in it. I figured that with a bit over 4,000 hours split between my two editions of Football Manager, that put my managerial skills at at least a level of competence that the less-heralded teams of Europe would be interested in.

    And so, packing my essentials and withdrawing my life's savings, I hopped a flight to London and used it as my home base to seek managerial jobs.



    What awaited me in the listings was mostly unsurprising: A bunch of crappy English and Italian teams, African national teams that had presumably finished a four-year tournament cycle, and, uh, the American and Italian national teams.

    I'm not gonna lie: I thought about playing an American save really hard. It was extremely tempting. But then I caught myself: I'm a great manager, but not a miracle worker. It would probably be easier to take a financially unstable team from the dregs of one of the European leagues, that play in a 2,000 seat stadium whose playing field could double as a swamp in poor weather, all the way to the Champions League and beyond than making Team USA legitimately competitive in World Cup play.

    So I passed it by and waited for other jobs to open up.

    Occasionally familiarizing myself with the English train system as well as jaunts to Italy, I interviewed for open jobs here and there, fielding offers and weighing my options. None of them felt quite right though, so I kept looking.

    And then I looked at the date: It had been a week since I arrived, I was living in an apartment in London, and the rent was due. Why was I trying to live in London of all places on a budget again?

    I knew it was time to stop playing around. So I paid my rent, spent the rest of my money on a plane ticket, packed my things, and made my way to Heathrow. Destiny (not to mention better food and weather) awaited.



    No, I didn't actually start out unemployed. But when I saw the open American job at the start of the game, I had to chuckle a bit.


    NEXT: Seeing the cards that fate has dealt me.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  16. ISO #16
    Thread Analyst Lissa2's Avatar
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    I have watched a few 1860 games in Allianz arena and luved only 350 meter from their current stadium. I wholehardedly support u chosing them

  17. ISO #17
    Thread Analyst Lissa2's Avatar
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    Blaming it on the hour
    Allund

  18. ISO #18
    Am I making you nervous? MarkoRaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lissa2 (#16)
    I have watched a few 1860 games in Allianz arena and luved only 350 meter from their current stadium. I wholehardedly support u chosing them
    This confused me so much for a split second
    I simply am not there

  19. ISO #19
    Am I making you nervous? MarkoRaj's Avatar
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    Btw it's called football and it's the greatest sport ever
    I simply am not there

  20. ISO #20
    If there was one thing I wish our sports would take from European Football it's the promotion/relegation system. Imagine the Browns playing the Raiders and the loser has to play in the XFL next season. That's some good drama. Plus, teams can stop tanking which makes it better for all involved.

  21. ISO #21
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Prologue, Part III: Dramatis Personae



    Man, I love starting in the past. Feels good to be 27 again.

    I'm still a bit tentative of starting an extended campaign in Spain, as the features that made the country unappealing to me in FM15 are still there. I don't like how the B teams operate and how they have a level of autonomy not present in other countries. I don't like how the lower leagues can have B squads of larger teams competing against crappier A teams in their own right. I'm not a fan of the overly-restrictive squad numbering system. And finally, I'm still a little bit terrified of the prospect of eventually going up against the two most storied clubs in the world (Real Madrid and Barcelona) in the quest for everlasting glory.

    But all of that, at least the final point, is a ways away. There's more pressing business to attend to. As in every new FM campaign, there's a lot to digest upon taking over a team for the first time. Let's break how I see Cartagena coming across into categories.



    The Good:

    Cartagena, by all accounts, is a beautiful city in Spain that's been relatively untouched by the tourists. This isn't modeled in the game at all, but I just figured I'd let you all know.

    In the middle of the city is the Estadio Cartagonova:



    In terms of stadiums in the Spanish third tier, this is one of the better ones. Seating 16,000 people (a lot for this level of play) and in relatively good condition, this will give us a financial edge over most other clubs in the league and keep us mostly afloat for a while once we start moving up the pyramid. Eventually, I plan to be such a draw where it will become necessary to either expand the stadium or build a new one, but for now this will serve nicely.

    Now, for players. Meet Etienne:



    (For those unfamiliar, all attribute ratings in this game are on a 1-20 scale. Unlike in Madden, where anything below 70 out of 100 means the player is completely useless in a category, the meaningfulness of the points are pretty evenly distributed.)

    Etienne is almost certainly the team's best player and a pretty decent midfielder in his own right. I can easily see him making the jump to the Segunda Division (the 2nd tier in Spain), though La Liga itself will almost certainly be too much of an ask for him. He's a well-rounded midfielder who can play anywhere on the center of the pitch aside from the #10 position, and I plan on using him as the anchor in a 4-3-3. I'm also going to name him captain. My only complaint is that he's not a couple of years younger.

    That's it. That's the good.



    The Bad:

    Most pressing is the financial situation we're in:



    I was hoping we'd have a little bit of fiscal maneuverability, but this is a hammer blow. Not a single Euro available to buy new players, which isn't that unexpected considering the level of play I'm at and the fact that I can easily tap the free transfer/loan market, but the fact that I'm already over the wage budget hurts. This means that I can't even bring new faces in to shore up positions of need for free without having to jettison somebody else.

    In addition, probably due to a quirk of starting with fake players or being this low in the pyramid, ever single player on the team's contract expires after this coming season. So if I want to lock up Etienne or Pepe Ramirez (my promising right back) for the next couple of years, I'm going to have to make some hard choices because you know they're not going to accept pay cuts.

    Now, the issue of fiscal inflexibility wouldn't mean as much if every position was as solid as midfield was. This isn't quite the case though. Exhibit A: Pablo Rodriguez, my leading striker:



    There's no way around it: this one is pretty grim. For starters, he's not even a natural striker, much preferring to be an attacking mid or on the left wing. He's not particularly tall, fast, or strong - all of which are somewhat important traits to have as a striker - and while he's not really that bad at anything there's no strong points either. The team has precisely one natural striker, a 20-year-old named Diego Frago who is completely useless at everything besides kicking the ball hard.

    Finally, my best winger, Antonio Rueda, is out for 3-5 months with a broken collarbone, which I find completely unfair considering he was just randomly generated out of thin air at the start of the game and I haven't even advanced the day yet.

    I'm already devising tactics to get around these problems, but I'm not going to get much help from my coaching staff in this regard: Meet Isidre Cortés, my assistant manager:



    Jesus, what a wasteland. Tactically incompetent in every aspect of the game, but at least he's adaptable! I plan to keep Isidre as far away from my notebooks as possible and instead have him run around the city and do my grocery shopping for me until I have enough financial flexibility to fire him and replace him with someone who doesn't regularly trip over his own shoelaces.



    The Workable:

    Despite the very real striker problem I have, that's the only major area of weakness. Midfield is strong, I have some good fullbacks, my central defenders are probably passable (though I wouldn't wager any money on that), and my wingers should provide enough service to Rodriguez where hopefully the law of averages will dictate that he'll put one or two in:





    (That said, they seem to be in the mold of more traditional wingers, crossing a bunch of balls in rather than cutting inside and threatening the goal themselves, which worries me since I'd rather them provide more direct danger considering our striker situation. I'll have to work around that somehow.)

    Goalkeeper, a position you always notice more if things are going poorly than if they're going well, should be well-covered between Alberto Munoz and his nominal backup, the Belgian Willy de Meyer.

    All in all, my team is well set up to run the 4-3-3, which is my preferred formation anyways, at least when starting out. I'll give a full positional breakdown after I've played through the preseason friendlies and gotten a better idea of how my team clicks.

    As for the overall strategy for this season? I can't really sell off my depth for wage flexibility, because I don't really have any depth at the moment - plus, there's a lot of fixture congestion in the early part of the season anyway. I'll see if I can't hook myself up with a parent club in the upper leagues to get some loan players without having to pay any of their wages, but that's far from certain.

    If I can make it to the January transfer window unscathed, I'll have a better idea of how my team performs and I'll feel more comfortable about making some financial and roster moves - once I offload, I can begin to re-sign my better players to contracts beyond this season. Let's hope that none of them attract the attention of better clubs and refuse to negotiate with me.

    With all of that in mind, my strategy for this first season is "do well but not perfect". I don't expect to be promoted this season and I'm not even sure that's the best in the long run anyway, considering my team doesn't really have a solid foundation. At the same time, I think my team has enough talent not to be in any serious relegation trouble. Striker is an obvious issue, yes, and my central defense could quickly go south, but I'm banking on my tactics mitigating those weaknesses as much as they can.

    We'll see where we are, avert obvious disaster, and build. Let the traditional powers leagues above us contend for glory. FC Cartagena is lurking, biding its time.

    NEXT: The 2017-18 season kicks off.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  22. ISO #22
    Your best player having only one name is always a good sign.

  23. ISO #23
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack (#22)
    Your best player having only one name is always a good sign.
    He's not even Brazilian, either!
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  24. ISO #24
    Responsible for #8 Mistyx's Avatar
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    Not quite sure what your expectations were but this looks rough

  25. ISO #25
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Quick update: the team owner is actively trying to sabotage me.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#21)
    I'll see if I can't hook myself up with a parent club in the upper leagues to get some loan players without having to pay any of their wages, but that's far from certain.
    I initiated a search for a parent club with the intent of doing the quoted and he blew this out of the water right away, seeing that he'd prefer not to rely on loan players. Apparently the American business practice of abusing unpaid interns hasn't made its way across the Atlantic quite yet.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  26. ISO #26
    GOAT Tier LanMisa's Avatar
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    That sucks; I hope that you will find another way to get some players; my guess are that Youth teams and selling some overpayed players on your squad are your best options now?

    Also a good reminder why starting in Germany is generally better.
    Last edited by LanMisa; February 22nd, 2019 at 09:33 AM.

  27. ISO #27
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Season 1, Part I: The Preseason Friendlies


    We had 6 preseason friendlies to get through before the real games started. Normally I don't like actually playing through these games and delegate responsibility to doing so off to my assistant manager, but this time I played them through because I wanted a better idea of how my team clicked and what needed improvement. Also, I don't quite trust Isidre alone with this bunch; anything more than 30 seconds together under his unsupervised tutelage and I'm afraid he'll accidentally have them drowned.

    Most of the friendlies scheduled were against teams that were similar to our skill level. I tried to cancel some of them in bring in more lucrative opposition (similar to American college football where Alabama pays tiny South Central Louisiana State University millions of dollars to get beaten 69-0 early on in the season), but alas, all of the giants were off in the US or Asia on their summer tours. So the schedule remained unchanged. At least I'd be able to see how the team measured up without an all-conquering opposition.

    Our first opponent was probably the toughest on paper: Ajax, out of the Dutch league. Let's get right down to it: we somehow drew them!



    This was legitimately shocking to me. While Dutch soccer isn't quite what it used to be, Ajax:
    a) Is still two divisions above us
    b) Is a regular participant in the Champions/Europa Leagues
    c) Is known worldwide for its youth development
    d) Can actually afford to fire any of their assistant managers who aren't even pretending to be qualified for their jobs anymore.



    Anyway, we were horribly outshot, but after some adjustments I made at halftime, the possession numbers were essentially a draw, and all in all the team held their own about as well as I could have hoped for.

    ---

    The goal was scored by one Jesús Gutiérrez, a striker who wasn't on Cartagena in the last update. While I was cruelly denied the right to search for a parent club that would provide me free loan players, I was still able to secure Gutiérrez's services from Las Palmas for the season. While he's only a short-term fix, he at least instantly solves my striker problem and rivals Etienne for the title of best player on the team:



    Strength is a bit of a concern, but his physical stats are otherwise about as good as you'll get for Segunda B, and is a far more appealing target that will fit nicely in with the style that my wingers are most comfortable with.

    The main issue is now central defense. I was hoping and praying that they'd be decent enough to last me through at least half the season, but it quickly became apparent that with Gutiérrez locked in at striker, they were the weakest part of the team (attempts to grab a completely free defender on loan similar to Gutiérrez were unsuccessful, though I'll keep looking).

    Their issues were numerous: Not really that physically imposing, and they had the tendency to zone out during games and get caught napping. The Ajax draw was nice, but in my second friendly match I got crushed 4-0 against Belenenses, largely because they got beaten on long balls to the striker on multiple occasions.

    It took me 4 and a half friendlies to tactically mask their deficiencies to the point where I was satisfied, but it came at the cost of playing as offensively as I'd prefer. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw in goal: Alberto Muñoz convincingly won the job over Willy de Meyer, with his highlight being a spectacular save of a pretty well-struck penalty in the third friendly. With him set to start most of my matches and having decent leadership traits, I ended up naming him vice captain behind Etienne.

    ---

    We ended up winning one friendly, losing two, and drawing three. Not the most auspicious start to the season, and we're definitely not as offensively sound as I'd like after trying to fix the defense, but on the plus side our win was our final friendly, with Gutiérrez grabbing a brace to secure the 2-1 win. I have hope that once the team really starts to gel, once my intense fitness training regimen starts to pay dividends, and once I stumble upon a way to get the offense as good as I want it to be without sacrificing any defensive position, we'll do well.

    Barring injuries, this is set to be my starting XI going into Match Day 1 of the league:



    Counter mentality, with a somewhat deep defensive line. That plus the cover provided by my DM Garcia were really the only way to get my DCs to stop leaking goals. Gutiérrez is excellent on the break, but so far most of his service has been coming from midfield and not the wingers, who haven't done much. We don't have quite as much possession as I'd like, but I'm not comfortable with dialing up an intense attacking mentality quite yet, at least not until we build up fitness.

    Secondary formation is a 4-2-3-1 that I'll use if we're behind, but none of my potential #10s are as good as my central mids and I'm worried about leaving my DCs without cover.


    NEXT: Autumn report
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; February 22nd, 2019 at 12:15 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  28. ISO #28
    Few things I've learned from nine months on fm18, after a gap of ~5 years on the wagon:

    1) Decisions and Determination are much more important now. Like, a guy who's mediocre in every other regard, or even one with a couple of huge flaws, can still prove to be a highly effective player if they have good ratings in those two attributes.

    2) Any formation with wingbacks (inc. fullbacks with wingback orders), three forwards (inc. wingers with inside-forward orders), and high pressing is utterly broken. In terms of cheesing your way to victory, it's like the old near-post-corner routine on steroids. If you don't want to find yourself thrashing everyone with ease, steer clear of that combination.

    3) Whatever you say or do to your players, check those Team Dynamics first - piss off the wrong player and things can go south very fast indeed. On the flip side, if you can create a strong team dynamic, then players will be much more willing to ignore the approaches of bigger clubs, accept spells on the bench, and (which is the most delightful feeling in the game) sack their bastard agents at your request.

    4) Train your CBs and/or DMs to be back-up fullbacks. If you're very lucky, you might find a natural fullback who can provide decent cover at CB or DM, but the reverse is much easier to engineer, and good FBs seem to be valued disproportionately by the AI, making them hard to buy and very easy to sell.

    Edit: Unless he has some major hidden flaws, Gutierrez is going to terrorise defences in your division if you can get him any kind of supply. I think it's Composure, rather than Strength, that could prove his biggest problem, though. Missing a couple of game-winners could knock his confidence, so be careful not to undermine him when it's not going his way.

    Edit2: Are you using the touchline team instructions during your games? If not, you might want to start hitting that 'Concentrate' button when you start to feel your boys drifting off...
    Last edited by McGinty; February 22nd, 2019 at 01:44 PM.

  29. ISO #29
    So Football Manager doesn't give players an overall rating like in other sports games?

  30. ISO #30
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    On decisions and determination: Sadly, none of my squad really has a high Determination attribute. Etienne's is actually one of the worst on the team, an atrocious 4/20, but his leadership is strong enough and his overall skills are good enough to the point where I'm hoping it cancels it out. Composure is a bit more of a positive, but again, it's the third tier in Spain, you're not exactly getting the pick of the litter.

    On ideal formations: Yeah I'm a big fan of inside forwards in general, but I'm trying not to get too exploitative with this playthrough. I can see myself gradually transitioning to this in the future as I get better players and move up the ladder, but it'll have to be natural. I don't want to force anything.

    On touchline instructions: Good eye, 4000 hours into the series and I keep forgetting that exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zack (#29)
    So Football Manager doesn't give players an overall rating like in other sports games?
    It does not. Well, technically not, anyway. If you have the In-Game Editor (which I do) you can check the player's total Current Ability and Potential Ability hidden attributes, but I'm only using the Editor in this runthrough for stuff like editing in rivalries. Otherwise, you just have to know which stats are more valued for which positions - though to be fair the game generally does a good job with helping you with this.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; February 22nd, 2019 at 03:24 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  31. ISO #31
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#30)
    On decisions and determination: Sadly, none of my squad really has a high Determination attribute. Etienne's is actually one of the worst on the team, an atrocious 4/20, but his leadership is strong enough and his overall skills are good enough to the point where I'm hoping it cancels it out. Composure is a bit more of a positive, but again, it's the third tier in Spain, you're not exactly getting the pick of the litter.
    Aye. Etienne's determination score would actually explain why he's in the third tier, despite being talented enough to play at a higher level. Indeed, if he were more determined, he might have developed into a top division player by this stage of his career.

    As it is, he'll probably be fine while the going is good, at least for another year or two. But when the going gets tough he's more likely to play beneath his talent. And he's also likely to fade more quickly with age than more determined players.

    The thing to understand with determination is that, while it can be very useful on the pitch in a given game, it's just as important over the course of a season and a career. Clearly it's not a substitute for talent - it won't make a bad player good - but it will have a major effect on how well a player exploits their talents.

    A real life comparison that springs to mind is Michael Laudrup and Cristiano Ronaldo. Swap their determination scores and Laudrup would now be considered the greatest of all time, while Ronaldo would be indistinguishable from Ricardo Quaresma.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#30)
    On ideal formations: Yeah I'm a big fan of inside forwards in general, but I'm trying not to get too exploitative with this playthrough. I can see myself gradually transitioning to this in the future as I get better players and move up the ladder, but it'll have to be natural. I don't want to force anything.
    As far as I can tell, it's only the combination of all three elements that makes it fully stinksome. But if you do start using two of them, you'll quickly see how the third one will supercharge it.

    For me it was getting the full backs to act like wing backs - there was just so much space out wide when my DMs/CBs picked up my opponents' clearances, the defenders having been sucked inside to deal with my attacking trio. The effect was to create a cycle of attack from which the other team struggled to break out. Add a keeper with good positioning and two fast CBs, and you're not even that vulnerable on the break. The only downside I found was players getting exhausted from all the pressing; but when you're routinely 4+ goals to the good at half time, it's just a matter of switching to a low-block, and subbing off your most tired forwards/fullbacks early in the second half to maintain freshness.

    When it got to the point where I just wasn't losing any games at all - and was winning most of them by 5+ goals - I had a look online and found that it's a well known exploit. And, while it certainly is fun putting seven past City at the Etihad, it gets boring pretty quick when it happens every time.

    After winning a ludicrous septuple in my second season with Liverpool (CS, SC, WCC, LC, FA, PL, CL), I ditched the cheese and the big time and have since been getting my arse handed to me playing industrial hoof ball with a selection of lower league strugglers, and having a lot more fun with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#30)
    On touchline instructions: Good eye, 4000 hours into the series and I keep forgetting that exists.
    I don't know exactly how much effect it has, but it certainly feels like the 'Concentrate' command gives you a period where your players are less likely to doze off. The only command I can say without doubt has a major effect, though, is 'Get Creative', with which your team will either transform into the very image of Rinus Michels' Ajax or (more likely) fall into complete disarray, with your CBs surging forward into spaces they can't hope to exploit whilst your midfielders totally fail to cover the gaps thus created in your back line.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#30)
    It does not. Well, technically not, anyway. If you have the In-Game Editor (which I do) you can check the player's total Current Ability and Potential Ability hidden attributes, but I'm only using the Editor in this runthrough for stuff like editing in rivalries. Otherwise, you just have to know which stats are more valued for which positions - though to be fair the game generally does a good job with helping you with this.
    Just to add that the in-game 'potential ability' star-rating is useful for quickly working out which youngsters to keep an eye on, and which to ignore. I completely disregard the one for 'current ability', though, since attributes and stats paint a much clearer picture.

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    Fair enough DaveDob's Avatar Discord Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack (#29)
    So Football Manager doesn't give players an overall rating like in other sports games?
    Technically players do have overall and potential ratings they just aren’t front and center. You have to kinda search for them. (I have the FM Database app so I can search overalls and potentials)
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    Season 1, Part II: The Dog Days of Autumn



    I was searching for a way to introduce this segment of the AAR when I received this notification from my personal assistant in my inbox. Really, it says what needed to be said more succinctly than I ever could: We've been doing decently, but there's certainly been a lot of frustration involved as everyone learns to play for each other (and me).

    There's certainly been highs. The first goal we scored in a competitive match (i.e. not a preseason friendly) was a thing of beauty, a magnificent cross delivered by our left back Alberto from really far out that Gutiérrez was able to get a handle on and deposit into the back of the net:



    (I like to pretend that Alberto meant to do that from the start and that it wasn't a halfhearted prayer or a harebrained attempt at a shot)

    As fantastic as that goal was though, Gutiérrez was pretty much the only source of our scoring for the first few matches, which meant that when he went quiet, so did the rest of the team. Add in a wicked period of fixture congestion in September and the first half of October (seriously, I think we played as many games over that period as a team two divisions above us competing in Europe as well as their domestic league), and my team was huffing and puffing along, providing insufficient service to the one guy who I trusted to put it in. The results got a bit grim.

    Add in your usual glut of injuries, the most annoying of which came from one of my wingers tearing his Achilles and a brief dressing room revolt that I was mostly able to put down, and times were fraught there for a while. But we improved. The wingers started to feed the guys in the center of the pitch with competent crosses. My defenders mostly retained focus and even put in a timely tackle or two. And of course, sometimes there were moments of individual brilliance that masked any deficiencies in my tactics as well as those from the other players on the team.

    Observe:



    In the above highlight video, Gutiérrez took a long pass in the box from José Luis Salido - a central mid who, while not the most talented on my team, sees a lot of playing time because he's got more of a nose for offense than anyone else who plays his position. The pass was a bit long, but Gutiérrez went on a lung-busting run, chased the ball down and controlled it before it went out of bounds, weaved around three defenders, and slotted the ball past the Bajadoz keeper and into the net (Bajadoz was ahead of us in the league at the time, so that was an extra bonus).

    Now, while obviously it was an incredible goal, there were a few things that bothered me: first of all, the pass from Salido, while showing great initiative, wasn't exactly pinpoint. Secondly, and more tellingly, Gutiérrez had absolutely no help on that one. Nobody else for the duration of the entire highlight entered the box at any time. If Gutiérrez didn't score there, the momentum would have ended - he had nobody to pass to, no safety valve whatsoever. Ideally, I want a system and players that know to start charging into the box and provide support whenever something like that happens. That stuff is far more sustainable in the long run - and also, I'm worried what happens if I can't get Gutiérrez or a similar player of his ilk on loan next season.

    ---

    In the league, overall, we're doing well, but the team has been maddeningly inconsistent. We'll grab a big win over a title challenger one week only to drop points against a relegation candidate the week after. We're not even streaky - I don't think we've ever put more than two wins, losses, or draws together in a row before changing it up. We're just kind of feeling it through.

    The league table (the standings, basically) has us in third place right now at the start of December, which, if things hold, will put us in a spot at the promotional playoff. I'm not sure if I want to win that playoff or not: on one hand, I always want to win, and jumping up to the Segunda Division will provide us access to more money and players, but on the other hand, need I remind you that every single player's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and we will be going into a tougher league with very little foundation to speak of.

    I'm certainly not going to intentionally throw games to get us out of the playoff, but missing it won't be the worst thing in the world at this juncture, I don't think.

    Our performance in the Copa del Rey was more encouraging. We got through three rounds, one of which was a bloodbath that resolved in a penalty shootout that wrecked my team's fitness for the next week or so and were sailing smoothly and pleasing the board of directors.

    And then, in the fourth round, something happened: We drew Barcelona.

    Despite not being worth more than the gum on the underside of Barca's shoe at this stage in my team's advancement, I was delighted. A two-legged match against the Catalan giants meant money. The Estadio Cartagonova would be filled to capacity for the home leg for the first time all season, and the away leg took place at the Camp Nou, which seats 99,000 people. That meant a good amount of matchday revenue which I hoped would prop up Cartagena's budget. The result was almost secondary.

    By the way, we didn't do too poorly:



    In the first leg at the Cartagonova, Gutiérrez took the lead by poking in a ball in the 27th minute after a long pass in the box. As time went on, I went from expecting the equalizer to hoping that we'd sneak away with a win to thinking we'd get the W. And then, with time running out, Barca's Uruguayan midfielder José Castro uncorked a 25-yard cannon that ripped through the air and lodged itself in the top left corner of the net. As cagey as we had been, sometimes there's just no substitute for talent.

    The return leg at the Camp Nou was never in doubt for them:



    Still though, despite losing, and despite not putting up much of a fight in the second leg (check out those shots numbers!), and despite the fact that this result happened even with Barca mostly sitting their superstars and fielding a youth lineup, I was pleased. We walked out of there with our heads held high.

    Be afraid, Barca. Be very afraid, José Castro. We'll be back at your stadium sooner or later. Maybe not next year, or the year after that, but we'll be back eventually. And when we are, we'll burn you alive.

    ---

    League table, December 1st:



    NEXT: The winter (transfer window) of our discontent, and beyond
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; February 24th, 2019 at 08:12 PM.
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    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    (Note: I'm not really satisfied with the quality of those two highlight videos and am looking into a way of getting them slowed down/zoomed in/actually labeling the names of the players for future highlights. We'll see if I have any success.)
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; February 24th, 2019 at 06:46 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    By the way, here's what a fortunate cup draw can do for your team's finances:



    That spike in revenue over the past month? That was entirely from the two Barcelona matches. I didn't sell any players during that window, and other sources of income (other matchday revenues, merchandise sales, TV money, etc) were minuscule at best.

    It's worth it as a lower-level team to treat the cup games as seriously as possible in the hope that you'll run into a giant later on just for the boost in finances, regardless of how you do against them.
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  36. ISO #36
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#34)
    (Note: I'm not really satisfied with the quality of those two highlight videos and am looking into a way of getting them slowed down/zoomed in/actually labeling the names of the players for future highlights. We'll see if I have any success.)
    What software/tools are you using for video captures?

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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack (#36)
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#34)
    (Note: I'm not really satisfied with the quality of those two highlight videos and am looking into a way of getting them slowed down/zoomed in/actually labeling the names of the players for future highlights. We'll see if I have any success.)
    What software/tools are you using for video captures?
    I'm using the official tool from the game itself (it allows for uploading highlights/games etc presumably for the process of sharing). Right now I'm thinking of using FRAPS to just directly record what I see and uploading it that way as I think it's a lot more conducive to following along.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  38. ISO #38
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#37)
    Quote Originally Posted by Zack (#36)
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#34)
    (Note: I'm not really satisfied with the quality of those two highlight videos and am looking into a way of getting them slowed down/zoomed in/actually labeling the names of the players for future highlights. We'll see if I have any success.)
    What software/tools are you using for video captures?
    I'm using the official tool from the game itself (it allows for uploading highlights/games etc presumably for the process of sharing). Right now I'm thinking of using FRAPS to just directly record what I see and uploading it that way as I think it's a lot more conducive to following along.
    ah, that explains the logo flash at the beginning of each video

  39. ISO #39
    Fair enough DaveDob's Avatar Discord Moderator
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    Always an interesting time when you get a big club in the cup draw. Must have been a surprise to get a draw (all be it probably against Barca C Team) on the first tie. That money will certainly help.

    The Salido to Gutierrez goal seems like a pretty prototypical lower league goal. See those a lot in my rags to riches saves I do in England. Long balls into the box and see if something happens.

    Only two points back at the start of December is never terrible.

    Vamos Cartagena
    Last edited by DaveDob; February 24th, 2019 at 09:51 PM.
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    Season 1, Part III: Razor-Thin Margins


    (My apologies for the delay, I haven't been able to play much this week. I'll try to make a push to finish out the season over the weekend.)

    ---

    For those unaware, there are two windows of time per year in European soccer in which you're allowed to transfer players. The first of these is the summer transfer window, basically the offseason from June to (roughly) September 1st. Once that date passes, you are physically unable to acquire any new players - barring a couple of exceptions that I won't get into here - and any gaps in your roster must be filled by people you already have, either from shifting around positions, tactics, or calling on players from your youth teams.

    The second transfer season is known as the winter transfer window. Open for only the month of January, it's a midseason opportunity to take stock, reinforce your squad for the stretch run, and, potentially, get very stupid with your financial decisions. Very generally speaking, transactions made in the winter window are usually categorized as more of desperation, potentially even impulse moves. Prices can be inflated. Chaos can reign.

    My goal for the winter window was to mostly reduce the team's wage bill. The two matches against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey were good for business, but the windfall was running out and we were still losing more money than we were taking in. We had a surplus of central defenders, midfielders, and, if I was feeling frisky, wingers that I felt comfortable with unloading without impacting the overall team strength too much. Yes, our depth would be reduced, but we had fewer games to play in the second half of the season and they were spaced further out, so I figured I could get away with it.

    This, in turn, would allow me to begin the process of re-signing some of the players I wanted to take into a second season, since, again, every single player contract was set to expire at the end of the season. Finally, if the market was right, I had my eye on a Real Madrid youth striker who had been listed for loan. The parent club, already richer than God, wasn't asking for any sort of financial contribution for taking him in, just game time. He would have paired well with Gutiérrez and I was considering switching our base formation to a flat, old English style 4-4-2 which would have emphasized service into the box to (what would be) the two most talented players on the team.

    In short, the winter to-do list looked like this:
    • Sell depth in central defense, midfield, and maybe winger to keep the team in the black, financially
    • Use the payroll flexibility to start extending some of my better players to build a foundation
    • Add the Real Madrid youth striker on loan, if he agrees, and switch to a 4-4-2.


    If I was to accomplish some of this list, it would be a good window. If I was to accomplish all of it, then I'd be very pleased with myself.

    Naturally, I wasn't able to accomplish any of it.

    ---

    The culprit was injuries.

    Maybe there was bad eggnog at the annual Cartagena Christmas party, maybe the players were used to more regular game time as opposed to the intense training regimen I was running to keep them sharp during the break, but whatever it was, they went down in rapid succession in just the positions I was hoping to unload players from.

    Etienne had to sit out a month with a hamstring issue. José Luis Salido, my most creative midfielder, went down for two with a nasty-sounding double hernia. And most terrifyingly, Antonio Miguel Cano, my most consistent central defender, decided to prematurely end his season with a broken arm just as I was adjusting my tactics to try for a more attacking mentality.

    The injuries were gutting, especially Salido's, and it meant that I was no longer comfortable with endangering the team's depth in the name of financial flexibility. We'd just have to gut it out and hope that the budget shortfall would hold for a while.

    Of course, this had side effects when I started talks to renew certain contracts. For example, this is the maximum amount of money the board would allow me to offer our right back Pepe Ramírez, who is currently making roughly €150,000 per year:



    I sighed, cancelling the negotiation screen without even making an offer. It was like this up and down the line. The only player I was able to do anything with was Etienne, who had a one-year extension clause in his contract that I activated. So at least the captain's going down with the ship.

    Also, the Real Madrid striker that I had my eye on? He got loaned out to a team in a different division.

    ---

    All of this culminated in a tough string of results. We were mostly able to limit the damage, so far, but first place is slipping out of our grasp and any more trouble spots and we could miss out on a playoff position. Etienne is back by this point, but I really miss Salido. We just haven't had much offensive spark without him. And if Gutiérrez ever misses time, we're in big trouble.

    League table as of February 1st:


    NEXT: None of these players might even be on the team next year, but that doesn't stop them from trying to finish strong.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  41. ISO #41
    Wanna see player stats, esp. goals, assists, average rating.

    Just how dependent are you on Gutierrez?

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    Fair enough DaveDob's Avatar Discord Moderator
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    Rough go with the injuries. Still seems like the team is in the thick of things though. Hopefully the lads will rally and make a push.

    Vamos Cartagena
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    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McGinty (#41)
    Wanna see player stats, esp. goals, assists, average rating.

    Just how dependent are you on Gutierrez?
    (Don't feel like taking a bunch of screenshots, all stats are for league only)

    Gutiérrez: 23 appearances (all starts), 14 goals, 2 assists, 7.08 average rating (6.7 is average-ish for those who don't know, anything above 7.0 is considered good)

    Salido: 15 appearances, 2 subs, 2 goals, 4 assists, 80% pass completion, 7.19 average rating

    Etienne: 17 appearances, 2 subs, 0 goals, 1 assist, 89% pass completion, 6.81 average rating

    Juan Redondo (top-performing winger): 19 appearances, 2 goals, 9 assists, 8.8 miles over 90 minutes, 6.85 average rating

    31 total league goals (Gutiérrez has 14), which is 7th in the league. Our cross completion ratio is 15%, which is tops in the league. Redondo is 3rd in assists, Etienne is tops in pass completion %.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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    Season 1, Part IV: My Kingdom for a Goalkeeper


    This was the situation:



    Now, ordinarily, I wouldn't be too fazed by this. Willy de Meyer lost the competition for the starting goalkeeper job at the beginning of the season and had barely played to this point. However, he had just seen an uptick in playtime recently due to my other keeper, Alberto Muñoz, going down for two months with a broken hand.

    So I was down certainly one game, possibly two, with the only people who I could consider to be remotely competent at keeping the ball out of the net in a no-talent Spanish league where some stadiums were lucky to see 1,000 paid customers per game.

    Eyeing up the healthy bodies on my team, I decided to make a backup central defender, Paco Castillo, the sacrificial lamb. The reasoning was simple: He was somewhat tall, and I didn't think I'd need him in his natural position that day. Our opponent, San Fernando, was the dregs of the league and went into the game in 20th place. We were 3rd after a win against Bajadoz. Hopefully the team could carry without a true goalkeeper for one game... right?



    Ok, so the second goal (the third overall in the video) was unstoppable regardless of who was in net. But saving the first was definitely possible and the last one... woof.


    Final score:
    3-2 San Fernando
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 3rd, 2019 at 08:41 AM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
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  45. ISO #45
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    That said, at least Castillo is in good company:

    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  46. ISO #46
    GOAT Tier LanMisa's Avatar
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    Should have made yourself a player coach and caught the balls yourself.

  47. ISO #47
    Fair enough DaveDob's Avatar Discord Moderator
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    It's moments like this that remind me I prefer to have 3 keepers on my team at any time.

    Did a save with Real Salt Lake where this exact scenario happened
    “DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018

    NCAA Football 14 AAR

  48. ISO #48
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Season 1, Part V: The Spanish Pyramid Explained


    We have one match to go in the season (I haven't played it yet), and there's a lot on the line depending on how things go in it. I'll go more into detail about that match as well as the homestretch of the season in my next update, hopefully tomorrow, but in the meantime let's take a look at exactly how the Spanish leagues are constructed - both for immediate and hopefully future use.


    We are in Segunda B4. I'm unaware of any tangible differences between the four subdivisions of Segunda B and am not sure if they assign your position based off geography or anything else. I do know that our regional rivals, Murcia, are in B4 with us (and we got the better of them this season!) but for all I know that could be random.

    More pertinently: Remember how, in my primer on how European soccer teams operate, I said the following about the various leagues:

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#2)
    League play [...has] no postseason tournament
    Yeah, there's a postseason tournament. The important thing to know about Segunda B is that there is no automatic promotion to the regular Segunda Division, not even if you outright win your subdivision. Now, there are incentives to winning: Aside from a higher cash prize depending on where you finish in the league table (oh so important in these penny-pinching lower levels), the promotional playoff is a complex beast and seeding really plays a difference.

    A quick scan of Wiki tells me that while the full intricacies of the playoff structure are too, well, intricate to quote here in full, basically if you're a subdivision champion then your road to promotion in the playoff becomes significantly easier. I'm talking "multiple bye rounds" easier compared to if you finish 3rd or especially 4th.

    Thankfully, things become a lot simpler to figure out once you're out of Segunda B and into the regular Segunda Division, which I will hereafter refer to as Segunda Prime. Let's hope we're there starting next season so this post becomes little more than a happy memory.

    NEXT: The homestretch, and where it left us.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 4th, 2019 at 01:27 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  49. ISO #49
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Season 1, Part VI: The Fight for Respectability


    This was the situation with four games to go in the league:


    We had been hopscotching between 3rd and 5th for a while now. I was hoping we could hold on for third - I had since decided that I wanted to take part in the playoff mostly for financial reasons, and also I was getting tired of life in Segunda B. 1st and 2nd were out of reach, with Extremadura making a late charge against Lorca D, who had led the league for most of the season. 4th place would require us to play an extra round in the playoffs; 5th would mean we would miss out on everything. 3rd was the goal.

    Our remaining schedule were mostly midtable teams with a couple of bottom feeders, but I wasn't particularly heartened by this. Ever since our first friendly at the start of the season, against Ajax, and going through the league season as well as the cup games, we've always played our best games against the stronger teams. I'm not sure if it's something in how we were set up, or our overall mentality, or anything else, but against good teams we played tight, focused, and clinical soccer. Against the weaker teams, we tended to let in early goals and it was a 50/50 shot as to whether we'd equalize or not. Since none of our remaining matches were against the Top 5, I started to worry.

    Also compounding matters was our continued injury situation:



    Luckily, none of them were truly long term aside from de Meyer's (and he wasn't our starting keeper anyway) and everybody would be back by the time the playoff started. Getting there, however, would be a different matter.

    The results:
    • A 2-2 away draw to Jumilla - we had fallen down 2-0 in the first 30 minutes so I couldn't be too angry about the fightback. At least my team was displaying resolve, which was a question mark at the start of the season.
    • A 3-1 home loss to Linense. This one hurt as Linense were on the way to relegation and temporarily knocked us down to 5th. Probably our worst loss of the season and it couldn't have come at a poorer time.
    • A 1-0 away victory against Villanovense, which leapfrogged us back to 3rd.


    This left a final, do-or-die matchup against Las Palmas's B squad. We were 3 points up on both 4th and 5th place: A win or draw would seal us 3rd place; a loss meant that it was out of our hands. The injuries were still a problem and to make matters worse, Gutiérrez was ineligible as he was originally loaned from Las Palmas proper and there was a clause in the loan agreement where he was not allowed to play against the parent club. Apparently this extended to their B squad as well.



    Somehow we were listed as the favorites, but I was too engrossed in a tactical plan to pay attention to the talking heads. Locking the door to my office and trying to ignore the sounds of Isidre Cortés repeatedly running into the wall outside while trying to offer me advice, I eventually decided to play aggressive in the hopes of making up for Gutiérrez's absence. Ideally, we would steal an early goal and put all suspense to bed before halftime.

    We lost 3-1.

    ---

    ---

    Thankfully, the two teams behind us choked away their golden opportunity as well, so my first season in charge of Cartagena ended in a very respectable 3rd place finish with a chance to be promoted to Segunda Prime.

    Due to our third-place finish, we would be required to win three rounds of matches in order to win promotion. Each round would consist of a home-and-away matchup, with the winner advancing on aggregate goals scored (in other words, if we won 1-0 at home but blew it and lost 5-0 away, we'd be out).

    The first round was against Real Mallorca, the second sporting pride of the Balearic Islands after Rafael Nadal. A proud club that actually won the entire Copa del Rey back in 2003, they had since fallen on hard times, their nadir probably coming a month or two back when they lost a friendly match to Cartagena that I had set up to gain a little extra money and keep my players fit during a long break between games.



    The reason this loss was a low point was simple: because I wasn't coaching the game. Since this was less of a "figure out tactics" friendly and more of a "fill the coffers/keep the players fit" friendly, I delegated management duties to my bumbling assistant Isidre. And he won, 2-0. So needless to say, while I felt some pressure about not being able to replicate the feat of a man who gets frustrated this his fishing expeditions to the local swimming pool come up empty-handed, I had a pretty good feeling about this matchup.

    Luckily, the team delivered, managing a 1-1 draw in Palma with Nadal in the audience (no, not Rafa, he was off winning at Roland Garros. No, not his uncle Toni either, he was coaching Rafa. The third Nadal, Miguel. He was watching.). Back at the Cartagonova, we finished the job, sealing a 1-0 victory to move on.

    While I was happy we got the victory, I was a little peeved that our aggregate margin of victory was less than that of what Isidre managed in a single game a couple months back. After a brief snit, I called Etienne into my office and asked him what the deal was.

    "Uh, boss, that friendly was us. Isidre thought the match was in Mallorca and never showed up."

    Oh. Okay then.

    ---

    The second matchup was going to be a bit harder. Logroñés was a fourth seed on paper, but they had already survived an extra playoff round and upset a 1st seed that got knocked down to the main bracket to get this far. Thus, we were treated as heavy underdogs.

    The first leg, at Las Gaunas, proved this and we were thoroughly outmatched. Logroñés completely dominated possession, shot counts, number of passes, pretty much any metric you can think of. But in an outcome that I can only explain as karmic justice for years of FM matches where my team had something like a 14-1 shots advantage but still lost 1-0, something happened in the 61st minute. Salido fed a ball to Gutiérrez in the box, and after a struggle, he was pushed off it by a Logroñés defender. Unfairly so, the referee ruled, and Antonio Manuel Cano slammed home the penalty over the angry howls of the crowd. We snuck home with a thoroughly undeserved 1-0 advantage, and I celebrated by drinking as much of the local Rioja as I could get my hands on and cancelling practice for the next two days on account of my extended hangover.

    The second leg at the Cartagonova was their revenge. Once again outclassing us, this time Logroñés bagged an early goal in the 13th minute, bringing the score to 1-1 on aggregate with a majority of a game to go. We managed to make it to halftime with that scoreline intact, but I wasn't confident.

    However, something happened in the second half. For the first time in two matches, the Cartagena boys started asserting themselves and tilting the balance more in their favor. I think this was from a combination of factors, most notably Logroñés having to go through an additional playoff round as a result of their seeding, and my heavy season-long emphasis on player fitness. We weren't able to get the winner, but I grew less and less worried about them threatening.

    The second half whistle came. No resolution. In a bit of a daze, I watched as extra time ticked by. The game got sloppier. By this time the Logroñés players were dead on their feet, but my team was definitely tiring as well. Both of us had long since used up all of our subs. I wasn't sure what the tiebreaker would be after extra time finished without a decisive winner. Penalties, maybe? We had done those once, all season, back in September during an early stage of the Copa del Rey. The team wasn't used to that.

    I was running through a possible lineup of 5 in my head, hoping for the best, when the referee blew the final whistle. Looking up expectantly, I watched him and his crew of officials jog off the field as the fans at the Cartagonova slowly emptied out. I was confused. This was it? What was the tiebreaker? Did we win? Were we moving on?



    NEXT: The conclusion of the 2017-18 season.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 6th, 2019 at 01:35 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


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  50. ISO #50
    Title race hots up

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The Monk is an independently aligned player who can protect one player each night. The Monk wins the game by successfully protecting two players.